The Allah issue in Malaysia: Look South

This Allah issue in Malaysia is getting ridiculous and dangerous – the latest developments include the firebombings of churches in Taiping.

Ironically Taiping, where Unspun grew up in the state of Perak in Malaysia, is means “Great Peace” in Chinee. It was given the name after a bloody civil war between rival Hokkien and Cantonese migrants in the tin trade. For many years since Taiping has enjoyed the serenity of its namesake and the biggest action in town when Unspun was growing up was when they installed traffic lights in the road junctions.

The firebombings last week has destroyed whatever Great Peace Taiping seems to have had. Perhaps it is a sign of the times.

Allah is used freely by all denominations in Indonesia without widespread defection of Muslims to other religions. Why is Malaysia so different?

In this entire hoo ha one question that needs to e asked is what is the role of the Malaysian Government playing in all this? If you will recall, it was the Malaysian Government that triggered the issue in the first place when the Home Minister forbade  the Catholic Church to use the word Allah in its newsletter Herald.

When the Church successfully challenged the order in the Malaysian High Court, the Malaysian Government said it would appeal, and it did on the grounds that if the Catholics were allowed to use the word Allah there MIGHT be racial conflict.

The problem with prophecies is that they tend to be self-fulfilling. So did the Malaysian Government inadvertently suggest the idea of racial conflict or was it cynically prescient in predicting the future?

This is a question worth thinking about. But while pondering about this, what to do about the genie that is being let out of the bottle with the firebombings of the churches in KL and Taiping?

Here Malaysians should Look South and learn from the Indonesians about religious harmony. When there were riots in 1997 the more responsible Muslim groups not only did not partake in the destruction of churches and calling for calm, they actively form brigades to guard against the violent attacks of their fellow muslims against churches. How cool is that?

And for those, like the Malaysian Government, who advance the idiotic argument that the use of the word Allah by other religious groups would encourage Muslims to change their religions, they should also Look South to Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world where over 90 percent of its residents have been and remain Muslims.

Here churches use Allah freely in their sermons and  in the Bibles they use, Muslims do not whip themselves into a fervor if Muslims decide to change religions, and Allah is just another word for God, whether they are of Christian, Muslim or other persuasions. And the result? No widespread defection of Muslims to other religions. Go figure!

14 thoughts on “The Allah issue in Malaysia: Look South

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    1. @Paman: “So?” is exactly the question that most reasonable people, Muslims and non-Muslims, in Malaysia are also asking. The problem is that in Malaysia there are lots of people who are so insecure that use of the word Allah by any non-Muslims would confuse the brethren. I find that an insult to Muslims, actually as it implies that their faith can be swayed by the use of a word by other religious groups.


  1. Stupidity at it’s highest level, Malaysia boleh ma! and thanks to the previous Home Minister who started it all. By the way, the current one is as equally idoitic whenever he open his mouth to speak.


  2. If I am a Christian, I wouldn’t even think of using the word “Allah” for my God. Let the Muslims have the exclusive use of the dirty word.

    Muslims today are associated with every thing negative. From incest to terrorism, cartoons and tudung etc etc….

    Do Christians in Malaysia really want to be part of these?


  3. @Wan: I don’t think you’re very Christian about all this. You’re probably also proficient in English and do not have to get by with Malay as your only language o communication. Not that Unspun is Christian.

    But to say that Allah is a dirty word and that Muslims are associated with only negative things is to present a bigoted point of view. Allah is a word like any word and it is the people using it that give it the meaning. And Muslims are like everybody else, there are reasonable people and unreasonable people, loveable ones and assholes, like the idiots firbombing churches. Not to see this would make you no better than the worst of the Muslim zealots.


  4. I have heard that Malaysian Muslims are more fanatics than Indonesian Muslims, but I never thought they would be so narrow minded that they forbid others using of word “Allah” which actually means “God”. No wonder Dr Azhari and Noordin M Top were so crazy spreading terror.


  5. 17. Surely, in disbelief are they who say that Allâh is the Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary). Say (O Muhammad SAW): “Who then has the least power against Allâh, if He were to destroy the Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), his mother, and all those who are on the earth together?” And to Allâh belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them. He creates what He wills. And Allâh is Able to do all things.


  6. This issue has nothing to do with religious intolerance and everything to do with politics. Over many years now UMNO has responded to the growing appeal of PAS by positioning itself as the “defender of Malay rights”. In Malaysia a Malay must be a Muslim, so by extention UMNO became the “defender of (Malay) Muslim rights”.

    After UMNO’s shocking results in the 2008 General Elections its self-chosen positioning became even more pressing. UMNO hoped to weaken the opposition by forcing PAS into a corner with Islamic issues. By generating religious controversy where none existing before, UMNO hoped to either drive PAS closer to UMNO, thereby splitting the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, or to weaken PAS by attracting its supporters to switch to UMNO.

    Unfortunately, blinded by its political objectives, UMNO failed to see the issues clearly and it has now set in motion a time bomb that will surely rock the UMNO government itself.

    The use of Allah by Christians has never been an issue in Peninsular Malaysia simply because Christians in that part of Malaysia worship in English, Chinese or Tamil, languages that do not use Allah at all. Similarly, the use of Allah by Christians in Sabah and Sarawak was never an issue for Muslims in those parts of Malaysia either. Ever since Chrisitanity came to East Malaysia the Malay language was the language of worship and Allah was the word used for God. This has been accepted by Christians and Muslims alike in East Malaysia.

    It was the former Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar, a Malay Muslim from Peninsular Malaysia, who took it upon himself to ban Christians from using “Allah”, (on the grounds that it would encourage Muslims to convert to Christianity!) The Catholic Church appealed and the appeal was upheld by a Malaysian court on 31 December 2009. UMNO siezed on this as if it was a gift from god. The UMNO government appealed the decision, sentiments were fanned, demonstrations were encouraged and the rest is not recent history.

    Unfortunately for UMNO, PAS reacted by going back to the principles and practice of Islam itslef. PAS ruled that there was nothing in Islam that prevented non-Muslims of the Abrahamic faiths from using Allah. By basing their decision on Islamic scholarship instead of political expediency, PAS came out smelling like roses while UMNO now smells like the Rafflesia flower.

    Furthermore, by imposing a West Malaysian Malay perspective of religion upon the East Malaysian states, the UMNO government has managed to piss off Christians and Muslims alike in East Malaysia.

    The next general election is going to be very interesting indeed.


  7. Opah, you have got it right. Nice analysis and well put.
    The level of intelligence – intellectual and political – of UMNO ministers seem to be declining while those of the opposition parties are on the rise. It is a pity for Malaysia – but not for UMNO – that many bumiputras are not smart enough to think for themselves.


  8. i agree with this issue. Mereka (Kristian) boleh mengguna d words of Allah, but first they must recite Laa ila ha illa Allah Muhammadurrasulullah.


    1. Kristian will use “Allah” for prayer. But to recite that verse ,only part of it cos the other half no one of sound mind will cos’ that man was a pedophile and married 14 wives. also involved with djinns .


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